Liverpool, The Fans, & FSG: It’s A Love Hate Relationship

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Let’s set the scene. It’s 2010 and Liverpool are struggling financially, as they are in the league. Rafa Benitez has left the club and Roy Hodgson is in charge. Fernando Torres is struggling to score goals and looks disinterested. He is looking for a move away from the club behind the scenes; a club that has become toxic both on and off the pitch. Fans are protesting against the owners George Gillet and Tom Hicks and Liverpool are weeks away from going bust.

In September and October of 2010, rumours of a takeover are in the air and on the sixth of October those rumours proved to be true as NESV are announced as the clubs new owners. A company that are the owners of one of the biggest sports franchises in America; the Boston Red Sox.

As owners of The Boston Red Sox, they had taken over a broken franchise and in the space of a few years turned it around. All looked rosy for the club. No outrageous claims were made by the new owners. Instead they remained quiet and went about their business behind the scenes.

The first order of business for the new owners was to sack Roy Hodgson. They bought back club legend, Kenny Dalglish, to replace him in a care-taker role; a move which united the club and got the fan base back on song. This was the first of their many PR stunts and was a move made by astute business men. An unhappy Fernando Torres was sold to Chelsea for £50 million and Andy Carroll was brought to replace him in alongside Luis Suarez.

Liverpool finished sixth that season in the league and Dalglish was given the job on a permanent basis. The following season Dalglish won the only trophy Liverpool have won under the ownership of FSG, the League Cup, beating Cardiff City 3-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw. Getting through to FA Cup final didn’t save him from being dismissed in the summer of 2012, and being replaced by up and coming manager Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers came into the club and made some bold statements about winning the league and in the 2013/2014 season that almost became a reality. In the end, Rodgers naivety showed and Liverpool finished second behind Manchester City.

While all this was going on, FSG were planning behind the scenes. A new main stand was touted and redevelopment of the area Anfield was spoken about and planning permission was applied for and granted. All was looking rosy off the pitch and with Champions League football guaranteed in the 2014/2015 season, fans were on cloud nine.

At this stage the only complaint from fans was Liverpool’s buying policy; buying young potential players with the hope of selling them on for a profit in the future. While this was an astute business plan for FSG, for the fans it was frustrating.

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They cried out for FSG to match the likes of Arsenal and other teams around Liverpool and splash the cash. Sadly, this did not happen and some fans started to call for FSG to be ousted in the same manner as Gillet and Hicks were.

Over the past two years, these voices have become louder and have created a split in the fan base. They find fault in everything the owners do. They find fault with everything from the colour of the tea served by the tea lady to the choice of chocolates on sale at the club.

For them, their arguments about FSG have substance and because they are anti-FSG their arguments are valid. No matter what people say to them. Pages have been set up on social media dedicated to getting enough fans on board to make their protests note worthy.

Yes FSG bought the club for a steal in 2010 and admittedly they have made mistakes over their tenure, but what owners have been perfect since they bought a club? Look at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea; each year they return a negative net spend and this is an unsustainable business model.

I am not anti or pro-FSG. I try and look at the whole argumen. The anti-FSG fans cannot see the good that the owners have done. The new main stand, the renaming of the Centenary stand to the Kenny Dalglish stand, bringing back Steven Gerrard to the club in a coaching role. And the biggest coup of all is bringing in Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager. All these are seen as yet more PR stunts by the FSG-out brigade.

I try to be an optimist when it comes to FSG. They have brought the club forward believe it or not. Sponsorship deals are flowing in on a regular basis. The new stand at Anfield has given even more fans the chance to see their heroes on a weekly basis, and with plans to develop the Anfield Road stand and its surrounding area, it will make the Anfield area more cosmopolitan.

While they havent got to grips with the transfer market yet, this summer they appear to be getting it right. Klopp has rightly demanded the owners buy players who can improve his team and the delay in signing his top two targets is adding more fuel to the whole argument that FSG are doing all this as a PR stunt which allows them to say at least they tried if the targets are not signed.

I’m not going to suggest I know anything about how transfers are conducted, but if a club does not want to sell one of its assets its hardly the fault of the owners. The fact that some of these deals are taking so long to materialise and be concluded is not the fault of the owners.

We can all agree FSG have got some things wrong at the club, but if you look at the bones of it you will see they have made more inroads.

If you are going to spend your days criticising the owners and what they are not doing, I suggest you revaluate your support of the club. Liverpool FC is debt free and, in seven years, have gone from almost being bankrupt and going out of business to being valued at over a billion pound with investors from Asia and the Gulf interested.

FSG are not football fans, they are businessmen and the sooner the FSG out fans realise this the better off they will be. They are not going to make any stupid mistakes which will put the long term future of the club at risk, and if they go on to sell the club to a sugar daddy and earn a profit from doing this, fair play to them I say.

They came in when the club needed them and helped transform us back into one of the biggest teams in England again. All they need now is a Premier League title and under Jurgen Klopp that is a real possibility.

1 COMMENT

  1. Nice article, and thank you for using the vid on YouTube. Definitely go along with a glass half full view of our owners, I think they are decent people who have revolutionised the club’s financial income, albeit they want to make a profit when they sell. Imagine if we’d got Kroenke or Glazer.

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